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Child Care Shared Services Alliance Finds a New Home

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

We’re excited to report that the Child Care Shared Services Alliance (CCSSA) is preparing to recruit its first cohort of child care providers this summer, with Neighborhood House as its newly-selected backbone organization. As you may remember, our initial capacity building investment was in June of 2020. This was quickly followed by SVP Portland stepping up as fiscal coordinator and project manager.

From the start, the design of the shared services alliance has been community driven, with all key decisions made by representatives of communities most affected by the program. In September, SVP Portland supported the project facilitators, Heidi East McGowan and Megan Irwin, in convening a Co-Design Team of twelve stakeholders, made up of child care providers from throughout Oregon (including culturally-specific providers), child care workforce development professionals, and representatives from the Early Childhood Division of Oregon’s Department of Education. 

The Co-Design team met ten times over five months to design a pilot program for a statewide shared services alliance. Key decisions included how to balance the efficiencies of central services with the importance of localized coaching, which child care management software to use, and which services should receive priority during the pilot. SVP Partners provided research and recommendations to support the Co-Design team in its decisions along the way.

In December, the Co-Design Team presented its recommendation to OCF for a 2021 investment to support pilot programs throughout Oregon, including program structure, what services should be provided, a budget, and a plan for next steps. Three pilots will trial child care shared services in regions that offer different geographical and cultural contexts. From there, the goal is to expand access to the shared services program to providers across all of Oregon. OCF’s Board of Directors approved a grant of $300,000 for the pilot. OCF is working to secure the remaining funds in partnership with other foundations.

The Co-Design Team also developed a process for recruiting and evaluating the shared services backbone agency to manage the pilot. Three different agencies applied, and SVP Partners played a critical role in the application and interview process. Each interested backbone organization was assigned a Partner as an “application buddy” to help walk them through a questionnaire and answer any questions they had about the process to maximize the effectiveness of their bid. 

The Co-Design team ultimately selected Neighborhood House, based in Portland, to serve in the backbone role. The organization has a long history of providing coaching and resources to family child care providers in the Portland area, and looks forward to leveraging that experience to build a statewide shared services alliance. Following completion of the incubation phase, SVP will remain involved as an advisor to the project in the pilot phase, alongside the Co-Design team and contracted facilitators.

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